A sleepy Cotswold village is set to be torn apart by plans put forward by its newest resident – the daughter of a secretive billionaire Russian oligarch.
Glamorous Darina Kogan, 46, and her husband Martin Bellamy, 52, moved into Coates, near Cirencester, 18 months ago.
Villagers joked that the pair were 'heard and not seen' as they would sometimes swoop in by helicopter to their 38-acre estate as owners of the village's grandest property, Bledisloe House, a £9.25 million Georgian mansion.
But last month a bombshell glossy brochure dropped through the letterboxes of Coates's 510 residents, containing an introduction from the couple and their plans to 'refresh' the village.
These include building 24 new homes, a community orchard, an allotment and a new community centre to be used as a workspace and for weddings and parties.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Martin Bellamy, 52, bought Bledisloe House (above), a £9.25m Georgian mansion, in Coates, near Cirencester in May 2020
Martin and his wife Darina, 46, who is the daughter of Russia's 41st richest man, want to turn land to the west of their sprawling property (pictured above) into a 'focal point' for the village with 24 homes, a cricket pitch and community centre
The couple sent a glossy brochure to Coates 510 existing homes to outline their plans and gauge public opinion. Inside featured a foreword from the couple explaining how they want to 'refresh' the village together with maps and plans (above)
Darina Kogan-Bellamy (left) is the lawyer daughter of Valery Kogan, a secretive Russian-Israeli oligarch. Her husband Martin Bellamy (right) is CEO of the Salamanca Group, a multi-billion dollar firm of international developers
In the brochure, the couple reason: 'We see the land to the West of Bledisloe as an opportunity to reinvigorate and refresh that area but also as an opportunity to provide a focal point for the village, centred around the cricket pitch and also to provide some additional, well thought through housing.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The controversial plans on greenbelt land in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be discussed at a parish council public meeting on Sunday but some villagers have already given it the thumbs-down.
Opposition has already emerged after another wealthy local resident in the village – whose residents include DIY SOS host Nick Knowles – set out 13 reasons to oppose the development in a letter sent to selected villagers.
Kim Pearson, 64, who lives in one of the cottages for older people that back onto the proposed development, said: 'It would simply ruin the most natural and peaceful part of the village. Rather than backing onto a field with grazing sheep, we in these cottages would all be penned in.
'They are talking about the site being accessed from Dark Lane which is a single-track country lane used by dog walkers, horse riders and ramblers.
'We don't need a focal point for the village. We've got it already with the village hall and we don't need weddings and banquets.'
Neighbour Sue Russell added: 'It was a massive shock to all of us. They have only been here for a matter of months and then they decide to build next to the oldest people in the village.
'The little lane is where we socialise with our dogs. It's really peaceful and we don't want it full of lorries and trucks.'
Another villager, who asked not to be named, said: 'What they are proposing looks like toy-land and they make out like they are doing us all a favour but come off it, who needs an orchard and an allotment?
'They pretend it's about affordable homes for young people but young people can't afford to live in the Cotswolds and why would they want to live somewhere with no post office, no surgery, no pub. But that is how we like it.'
The Parish Council has remained neutral on the proposal for now, but pledged to help the new owners 'engage with the village as a whole'.
Other residents were reluctant to go public with their objections and felt the village would struggle to resist the power couple's move.
One businessman said: 'Looking at the background of those putting forward these proposals, we are dealing with some pretty serious types.'
And judging by the wealth of the couple involved he has a point.
Darina is the daughter of Valery Kogan, a secretive Russian-Israeli oligarch with a penchant for stupendous homes and hiring the likes of Mariah Carey, Sir Elton John and Gloria Gaynor to entertain guests at lavish family parties.
Kogan Snr, who is 70, is said to be a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a connection rumoured to have begun when both worked for the KGB.
Valery Kogan (right), who is 70, is said to be a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a connection rumoured to have begun when both worked for the KGB. He